Briefing / Global
History feels alive and kicking this month. Our picks include a Netflix series about a pioneering African-American millionaire, Tom Stoppard’s personal new play and choreographers of the past on show in São Paulo. Plus: the art of board games and a New York photography fair.
‘It Is What It Is’
This follow-up to the acclaimed Drunk (2017) is a delight – and further proof that Thundercat’s genre-bending style is unique. Although comic irreverence is still present in his work, this new album bears the sombre influence of the death of Thundercat’s dear friend, musician Mac Miller. The song “Fair Chance”, a beautiful slice of vintage r&b, is a heartfelt tribute to him. Among other highlights there’s the pure funk of “Black Qualls”, featuring former Slave singer Steve Arrington. In “Dragonball Durag”, Thundercat explores his yacht-rock sensibilities and at the same time celebrates the Japanese anime.
‘It Is What It Is’ is released on 3 April
At the time of her death in 1919, Madam CJ Walker was one of the richest self-made women in the US. She was also among the country’s first African-American millionaires, having made her fortune selling hair and beauty products aimed at black women – treatments that she had originally formulated for herself. Her life story, an enthralling tale of entrepreneurship and social activism, has been largely ignored. This new four-part dramatisation tries to correct that. Notably, its executive producers include basketball star LeBron James and actress Octavia Spencer, who also plays the lead.
‘Self Made’ is released on 20 March
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s bittersweet follow-up to 2018 Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters operates at a lower register and a slower tempo than other family-get-together dramas, such as Michael Haneke’s Happy End or Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. The Truth revolves around a capricious actress and her largely estranged daughter (played by Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche) as they revisit their painful shared past in the wake of the publication of a conveniently sanitised memoir by the former. It’s a mature, understated first foray away from Japanese-language cinema for Kore-eda; the director is less interested in grand gestures than the ellipses in memory that can cause relationships to decay.
‘The Truth’ is released in the UK on 20 March
Wyndham’s Theatre, London
Leopoldstadt marks not just possibly Tom Stoppard’s last play – he’ll be 83 this summer – but by some measure his most personal one too. For the first time in his stellar career, the brainiest writer on the British stage addresses his Jewish heritage in a bustling dynastic drama that’s brilliantly served by director Patrick Marber (himself a formidable playwright) and a large cast of adults alongside a number of children. The novelistic density of the first half gives way after the interval to more emotive button-pushing. There’s no denying the sweeping commitment of Stoppard and his colleagues to a story spanning 56 years in a changing, and changeable, Vienna – shining a light on the past while also illuminating a darkening present.
‘Leopoldstadt’ is on until 13 June at Wyndham’s Theatre, London
US artist and fashion photographer Deana Lawson is likely to achieve global stardom. This show includes lush, powerful images taken in Brazil, Ghana and Haiti, as well as intimate portraits of people from the southern states of the US. “Her work has formal qualities that make it attractive to the world of fashion,” says curator Elena Filipovic. “But she very much belongs to the world of art [for] the underlying complexity.” Writer Zadie Smith is also a fan. In a recent essay she wrote: “Outside a Lawson portrait you might be working three jobs, struggling. But inside her frame you are beautiful.”
‘Deana Lawson’ opens on 27 March
‘Hélio Oiticica: Dance in My Experience’ and ‘Trisha Brown: Choreographing Life’
Museu de Arte de São Paulo
In tune with growing interest in performance art and choreography in museums around the world, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (masp) is devoting a major part of its 2020 programme to the history of dance. It begins with a pair of heavyweight solo shows featuring painter, sculptor and performance artist Hélio Oiticica and Trisha Brown, the postmodern US dancer and choreographer who died in 2017. Later this year, masp continues with works by artists not often associated with choreography, including Senga Nengudi and Beatriz Milhazes.
‘Hélio Oiticica’ and ‘Trisha Brown’ will open on 20 March
Seattle Asian Art Museum
The Pacific Northwest has long had deep ties with Asia, so it’s fitting that Seattle should be home to the US’s leading gallery dedicated to art from the continent. Perched on a forested hill overlooking downtown and recently reopened after a three-year renovation, the Seattle Asian Art Museum has gained a new glass lobby for its 1930s art deco building. A canopy of lights in the courtyard has been created by artist Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn and the works inside have also been reshuffled: sculptures, paintings, photographs and ceramics are now grouped by themes rather than geography. The first new display of the permanent collection, titled Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, is a compelling selection from the museum’s 8,500 ancient and contemporary pieces.
The Seattle Asian Art Museum is open now
Europe’s largest photography fair, Paris Photo, will have another go at breaking into the US market after its Los Angeles edition closed in 2016. The new event at Manhattan’s Pier 94 will replace the Association of International Photography Art Dealers’ annual show, which had been running since 1979. “Paris and New York are the top two cities in the photography market, both historically and when it comes to business,” says the fair’s director Florence Bourgeois. Some 175 exhibitors will gather from around the world and a section showing emerging talent will be guest-curated by critic and author Antwaun Sargent.
Paris Photo New York runs from 2 to 5 April
Three essential exhibitors:
Christophe Guye Gallerie Founded in 2006 in Los Angeles, this gallery moved to Zürich in 2010. Expect work by Japanese artists Rinko Kawauchi and Yoshinori Mizutani, as well as fashion photographer Emma Summerton’s private stash of Polaroids.
Matthew Marks Gallery Specialising in contemporary art and photography since the early 1990s, Matthew Marks Gallery now has three locations in New York and two in Los Angeles. This will be its first time at a photography-focused art fair, where Nan Goldin and Peter Hujar will take centre stage.
Rose Gallery This Los Angeles gallery is highlighting the cinematic self-portraiture of young photographer Tania Franco Klein, as well as works by Californian Jo Ann Callis and Mexico’s Graciela Iturbide.
‘The Discomfort of Evening’
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
At just 28 years old, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld is already a literary star in the Netherlands. After winning the 2018 C Buddingh’ prize for poetry collection Calf’s Caul in 2018, she won the ANV debut prize for her novel The Discomfort of Evening. Now, thanks to a fine translation by Michele Hutchison, English readers can experience the novel’s heady imagery and sensory language. A taster: a boy’s heavily gelled front locks resemble “two curls of butter on a dish” and pursed lips are like “mating slugs”. Set on a Dutch dairy farm, the novel tells the tale of 10-year-old Jas, whose world is cleaved apart when her brother dies in an ice-skating accident. It’s a visceral portrait of a devout family dealing with grief and the result is both haunting and beautiful.
‘The Discomfort of Evening’ is published on 19 March
With Senet, co-founders James Hunter and Dan Jolin wanted not only to celebrate board games as an old-school pastime but also to pay homage to those who elevate them almost to an art form. In the first issue, Jolin speaks to Elizabeth Hargrave, the creator of Wingspan – a stunning, award-winning game for bird enthusiasts. Of course, much of the endearing title is dedicated to detailed reviews of the latest board games, from the clever Copenhagen (which casts players as architects competing to build projects in the Danish capital) to the scary Dead Man’s Cabal, where the aim is to collect bones and skulls. A suggestion from us? A special on The Game of Life wouldn’t go amiss for the second issue. But that’s just how we roll.
Issue one of ‘Senet’ is out now
We meet: Fernanda Feitosa
The Latin American art market is growing; between March and April there are art fairs taking place in Santiago, Buenos Aires and Lima. São Paulo’s SP-Arte director Fernanda Feitosa explains why smaller regional fairs like hers have a big role to play in cementing a scene.
“When I started SP-Arte 16 years ago, April was the only month to do it: there were no art fairs around the world that could affect us. Now [the schedule] is packed; every art market has begun to create a more integrated market by way of an event that brings all the players together: critics, artists, galleries and intermediaries.
And, of course, each country’s fair tries to present the best and most relevant artists from its scene. There’s always the risk of a clash. If you’re an international collector, you will have to choose. But we have to live with that; we are competing for the same niche. Whenever [big fairs like] Art Basel appear in new locations, they create a market or increase the conditions of existing ones. But smaller art fairs like SP-Arte are important for their regions.
These fairs don’t need to be international but they need to exist to foster the market and for the artists to live off their work – otherwise nobody would go to art schools, and there’d be no museums.”
SP-Arte is on 1 to 5 April at Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo; sp-arte.com